The following review is based on roughly 40 hours of gameplay, mainly on the Nintendo Switch but also on PC. We received a review code for this game.
When it comes to action RPGs, Diablo II is the bar. It’s the standard to which all ARPGs are judged, the forebear to which all ARPGs can claim lineage to in one way or another, and just the goddamn gold standard when it comes to its genre.
Diablo II: Resurrected is Blizzard’s latest foray into remastering the classic titles that the company made its bones on. Blizzard and Vicarious Visions beefed up the twenty-one year old classic with updated graphics, beautifully re-rendered cutscenes, and cross-progression between the all platforms. But is Resurrected truly a return to the ARPG golden age, or is this resurrection a ritual gone wrong?
Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the rip – Diablo II: Resurrected is good.
Aside from the visual updates, Diablo II’s remaster has a handful of quality-of-life improvements such as controller support, easier methods of item identification, and shared stashes of items between all of a player’s characters – but that’s just about where the changes end. Quest markers? Matchmaking? Pay-to-win marketplaces? Fuck all that noise. This is the year 2000 baby, get outta here with that bullshit.
Resurrected brings us back to the days of lobbies, baked-in content, and automaps that reveal themselves as you go. There’s practically no rushing through this game, you are going to go at the pace it sets you on, and I love it for that. Blizzard and Vicarious Visions could’ve easily (and foolishly) repeated history and messed with the recipe too much (*cough* Warcraft III Reforged), but they chose instead to let their own ideas take a backseat – and highlight what makes Diablo II such a classic in the first place.
Switching Things Up
My biggest surprise was how enjoyable Diablo II was on Nintendo Switch. I haven’t played Diablo III on the Switch, but immediately figured that my social life would basically be over the second I loaded this game up and was able to play it on the go. And I was absolutely right.
You probably wouldn’t have any graphical or performance doubts when it comes to any other console, and definitely not PC, and that’s for good reason. The Switch can be a bit of an enigma sometimes, and I’ve absolutely run into massive optimization issues in the past for other ports that have come to Nintendo’s console/handheld hybrid – but Diablo II isn’t one of them.
Resurrected runs great on the Switch, though its framerate dips just a little bit when you play the game undocked. This is pretty surprising, as I can’t imagine Diablo II is a very demanding game performance-wise, but something tells me a patch may come to spiff up D2R’s mobile performance.
All in all, it’s amazing to be able to log off on my PC, undock my Switch upstairs, and get in bed and continue to play Diablo II seamlessly.
Devil’s In The Details
Diablo II: Resurrected isn’t flawless, and I did encounter a few odd bugs in the beta that carried over into the game’s full release. For example, I noticed a handful of times that my character would pop backwards a few feet after walking forward, as though the game lagged out and clipped me back a few frames. This never resulted in a death or anything, but was super annoying to see present in the game’s release build.
The majority of the game’s models and sounds are fine, but the big baddies and main heroes and NPCs are the ones who got the most prominent facelifts visually. The henchmen you’ll kill 20,000 of each over the course of the game all mostly have the same sprites and animations, so it was kind of a shame there wasn’t more variance added.
In terms of sound effects, the game definitely is creepy – but the repetitive “BLEGGGH!!” cry that a demon or zombie makes to you when you engage it in battle became less scary and more annoying somewhere around the hundreth time I heard it within an hour. I’m sure these sound effects are a part of the game’s retained retro ARPG charm, but it got really old really fast, and one would hope Blizzard would add some more depth to those sounds to make the experience feel a little more modern. Again, I assume most classic Diablo die-hards have no problem with this, but it came off less charming and more obnoxious for me.
There’s very little that I’ll be able to say about Diablo II: Resurrected that hasn’t already been said, whether about the remaster or about the original game. You all know that the game is a must-play in one form or another, so you might as well just do yourself a favor and pick up this version. It’s absolutely a breath of fresh air to download and play a game that I know doesn’t have microtransactions, battle passes, or seasonal content attached to it. D2R just is what it is, and what it is – is really great.
The Good – Everything you loved about the original Diablo II with a fresh coat of paint.
The Meh – Cross-progression is amazing, but cross-play would be even better.
The Bad – BLEEEEGH! BLEGFGGGGGH!!! BAAAAARGH!!!!
The Verdict: 4/5 – A faithful remaster, and spiffed up love letter to the grand daddy of all ARPGs. Play it.
Diablo II: Resurrected is available now for PC/Mac, Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch.